An analysis by Italian experts shows that the more individuals are informed by magazines, TV and the internet, the more they stick to the Mediterranean diet, one of the healthiest diets in the world. It has long been thought that the opposite was true, that media was responsible for poor diets and the rise in consumption of fast foods.
This is the conclusion of a study performed by the Research Labs at the Fondazione di Ricerca e Cura "Giovanni Paolo II" in Campobasso. One thousand individuals took part in this study.
The report, published in the International Journal of Public Health, is one of the first analyses considering advertising as a whole by examining the resources most used by individuals to be informed on many issues. Previously experts had examined only the results of TV watching on health, with negative results.
Americo Bonanni, head of the Science communication unit of the Research Laboratories, explained that the study focussed on eating habits, specifically the Mediterreanean diet. He said “Results have shown that people most exposed to information delivered by any mass media source, reported higher adherence to the Mediterranean-like eating patterns. The latter are considered as the most effective eating model for reducing the risk of chronic and neurodegenerative diseases. In particular, people resulting more informed reported higher consumption of some key foods of the Mediterranean diet pyramid, such as fruits and fresh fish, and a lower consumption of less healthy food such as animal fats".
Giovanni de Gaetano, director of the Research Laboratories, explains "Our study has however provided data which may turn out to be very useful in a period in which to combat obesity increase, unhealthy dietary habits and diffused laziness we are urged to find new ways to communicate health. We should stop being suspicious of mass media". More in depth studies are planned.
The Mediterranean Diet focuses on fruits, fresh vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, olive oil, and herbs and spices; eating fish at least twice a week; enjoying chicken, eggs, cheeses and yogurts in moderation; and saving sweets and red meats for special occasions.